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RVSC aims to shed light on area play

Installation of lights for night games could offer more opportunities for fans

Medford's Dan Singler heads to the woods in the wee hours of the morning and often doesn't return home until 6 or 7 o'clock at night.

Loggers must work when work is available, and if that means 12-hour days, Singler will dutifully put in the time.

But now that both of his daughters are in high school, Singler rarely gets to see them play soccer. If the Rogue Valley Soccer Club gets its way, Singler and other working parents will one day be able to watch their children play in the evening hours.

As it stands now, most local high school soccer teams play their matches between 2 and 4 p.m. on weekdays and at noon on Saturdays.

It's only fair, says Singler, whose daughters, Danielle and Andria, play soccer for South Medford High. Football, basketball, volleyball, wrestling — all those sports play at night. Why can't soccer?

The biggest stumbling block is a lack of lighting. Neither of Medford's two high school venues — District Field and Fichtner-Mainwaring Park — have lights. Installing them at just one of the fields would cost as much as $70,000, local soccer officials say, although much of the cost could be reduced with volunteer labor.

RVSC president Tim Driver says the club would be willing to donate much of the money for lights. The club raised $250,000 to build the fields at Fichtner-Mainwaring, he says, and currently has about $80,000 in its account.

Driver is currently polling RVSC members to get their thoughts on the subject. Some 1,900 youths are under the RVSC umbrella.

Logic suggests that the soccer community would first aim a lighting project at District Field on the North Medford campus. That field is more complete, with grandstands, a scoreboard and fencing that would allow charging admission to help defray costs.

District Field also had a conduit and transformer installed eight years ago when it last underwent a facelift.

But if District Field is made the crown jewel of Medford soccer fields, does that mean South Medford would want to play its home games there? If not, would the district allow North to play its games at night while South continued to play in the afternoons.

It does get political, Driver says. It's kind of a touchy subject.

District athletic director Bruce Howell says the Medford district has nothing against night soccer, but is quick to add that some schools in the SOC might be opposed to it because of their athletes getting home late on weeknights.

Of course, the way it is now, local soccer players that have 4 o'clock matches in Roseburg or Klamath Falls are missing a half day of school.

Nothing we do is etched in stone, Howell says. If the soccer people can come up with the money and the two schools (North and South) can come to some resolutions, then it (night soccer) can happen.

Night soccer has become popular in the Portland area, and local teams that travel north in the state playoffs are at a disadvantage, local coaches say.

The way soccer is going I feel that evening games will occur at some point, first-year South Medford girls coach Buzz Thielemann says. I think it's inevitable.

Meanwhile, Singler will have to be content watching weekend matches only.

Once in a while I can hustle back and watch the second half, he says. But it would be nice to go home first, have dinner and change clothes.